The Student Pledge Against Gun Violence is simple. It reads:
"I will never bring a gun to school.
"I will never use a gun to settle a personal problem or dispute.
"I will use my influence with my friends to keep them from using guns to settle disputes.
"My individual choices and actions, when multiplied by those of young people throughout the country, will make a difference. Together, by honoring this pledge, we can reverse the violence and grow up in safety."
In 1996, the United States Senate passed a resolution [pdf document] proclaiming the first Day of National Concern, followed by a Presidential Proclamation by President Bill Clinton. Since then, more than ten million young people have signed on to this pledge.
Ryan Vigil decided to convince as many of his classmates as he could at Highlands High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico to sign it, too.
And then, last Thursday, he was gunned down.
Ryan - a third-baseman for his school's baseball team - participated in an ill-advised schoolboy prank with some of his friends as they drove around town and tossed golf balls at people. The kids reportedly tossed some at an alleged methamphetamine user, who later found the boys and allegedly shot Ryan in the head.
"[Ryan] always had a smile on his face," Highlands High School baseball coach Anthony Lovato said. He had an extremely hard work ethic - [he was] a great kid to be around."
Today is the National Day of Concern for 2007, a day when we can all rededicate ourselves to preventing even one more senseless gun death. We can remember Ryan, and remember the pledge that he and many of his classmates believed in and signed.
And we can also simply consider the words of Ryan's High School Principal, Nikki Dennis, who said, "If you write any headline, he's an example of the random violence facing our nation.
"Write that he was a good kid, a really good kid."